Apartment noise, auditory discrimination, and reading ability in children

Date of Original Version




Abstract or Description

This study examined the relationship between a child's auditory and verbal skills and the noisiness of his home. Expressway traffic was the principal source of noise. Initial decibel measurements in a high-rise housing development permitted use of floor level as an index of noise intensity in the apartments. Children living on the lower floors of 32-story buildings showed greater impairment of auditory discrimination and reading achievement than children living in higher-floor apartments. Auditory discrimination appeared to mediate an association between noise and aeading deficits, and length of residence in the building affected the magnitude of the correlation between noise and auditory discrimination. Additional analyses ruled out explanations of the auditory discrimination effects in terms of social class variables and physiological damage. Partialling out social class did, however, somewhat reduce the magnitude of the relationship between noise and reading deficits. Results were interpreted as documenting the existence of long-term behavioral aftereffects in spite of noise adaptation. Demonstration of postnoise consequences in a real-life setting supplement laboratory research showing the stressful impact of noise on behavior.


Published In

Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 9, 5, 407-422.